Just hang up already!

Over the years, friends have come and gone. Some remained longer than others while the presence of quite a few was so brief that I barely remember them. The memory is nothing more than a shadow tucked away behind the platform shoes and bell bottom jeans they accompanied. However, there have been many people dear to me who simply floated away due to change of location, jobs and complacency.  If we were to meet today, we would smile  and hug, share family news and move on. I have found it impossible to reverse the flow of relationships, even the ones that carried no drama. I feel fortunate to have a few close friends that are privy to every crazy, painful and intimate thought that passes through my head. These folks are my safety net, the heart shield against the ugliness the world can produce. They are also the conduit for joy and love. Lucky me to have them.

Then there are the other kinds. You know what I mean. The ones who wring you dry and then tell you that you’re never there for them. The late night phone calls that detail how the world has wronged them and never of hint of their part in the ongoing melodrama. In fariness, I know that I’ve been that person in the past and I had patient friends who saw me through the maze. It’s taken years to change the behavior and sometimes I fail but more often I succeed.  As I age, my patience for the whining with no solution in sight is diminishing. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care. It just means that time is precious and I’d rather spend it with those who love me for who I am, not what I can do for them.

What’s the point of these ramblings? Just that I’m grateful that I’ve learned the difference between good friends, old friends and no friend at all.

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Weight Weight Wait!

Ah, the dreaded “W” word. When I was younger, I didn’t worry about it very much. I was naturally slim and ate what I wanted with little or no consequences. But time changed that. When I quit smoking, I gained a little. Then I had babies and gained a little more. Nothing to be concerned about. I started taking certain medication about the same time I started menopause and all bets were off. 50 lbs. Yes, suddenly I weighed 50 lbs. more and was the heaviest I had ever been. My life was too crazy to worry about it and it just settled in for the long haul. I had assumed it would be temporary but this was not to be. I love good food and believed that somehow, some day, the extra pounds would all magically disappear. Unfortunately, the weight loss fairy never found me. I did move around a lot and I figured that she had lost my address. Fast forward 20 years.

One day when I was feeling pretty good about myself and the world at large, someone asked me if I was expecting. My first thought that was that she was crazy. After all, I was 54 years old and she knew it. My second thought was that I must be fat beyond words. Despondent, depressed and in despair are only a few of the feelings that assailed me. I had been leaving out milkshakes and cookies for the weight loss fairy to no avail.  There was a conspiracy between the mirrors in my house to keep the truth from me.  I was overweight and not getting any thinner. Of course, I did what most clear thinking people would do. I ate myself silly for 3 more months until even my largest clothes were too tight.

So I bit the bullet (sans sugar) and joined Weight Watchers. It hasn’t been easy. There are days that I hate it and just want to eat every sugary thing I can find.  But that would be silly and a serious waste of the money spent every month. The progress has been slow but steady and no one has asked me when the baby is due. It’s up to me to make positive changes. If the weight loss fairy showed up today, I’d thank her kindly and show her the door. There are times that magic isn’t the answer and this is one of them.

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Wandered Off

I admit it. This blog was started with the best of intentions, kind of like that road to Hell. I wrote a bit and then became distracted by shiny things. I guess that makes me a magpie. Other interests took me away and it faded into memory. I was recently reminded that I had a blog and was thrilled to see that it was quietly waiting for me to return. I have oodles of stuff to talk about so I’ve decided to give it CPR and see what happens.

Ready, set, write!

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Below Standard

Just below the skin’s surface the whispers have begun
“Whiner” “Hypochondriac” “Drama Queen”
I search the faces around me for the source

All seem serene, helpful and sympathetic
Arms reach out to hold me, support me and offer hugs
No sound emanates from those lips

Desperation increases as the voices grow louder
“Again?” “More?” “Will it never end?”
I dive for my bed, buried beneath the covers

Chastising, unloving, shaming
This is my own unkind voice
Learned at my father’s knee

A choice presents itself
Accept the cold, critical words
or rise above to self-love and acceptance

Which shall I choose?

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Not Forgotten

Today, I remember the dead

Those who’s last days were spent toiling for the enemy

Digging the graves of their families

Waiting for a word, searching the crowd for a familiar face

Pleading with God, shaking a fist at God, turning from God

Tracing the numbers etched forever in their arms

Burned into their skin, burned into their minds

Struggling for survival for just one more day

Will death come today or more horror carried out by those who used to be neighbors, possibly friends

Millions of strangers forced to live lower than animals

Beaten, mutilated, fodder for medical experiments

Dying with despair in their eyes, hopelessness in their hearts

The few saved know they should feel lucky to be alive

But alone, so alone in the world

I vow to never forget them, to keep them alive in my heart

My heart aches for the lost, for those that survived

Today, I remember the dead

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My Personal Wilderness

Maybe it’s spring fever. Maybe it’s a middle aged crisis. Regardless of the cause, I have the strong urge to take off running and not stopping until I have found my purpose. It’s sounds like a cliche even to me. I’m certainly not the first person searching for meaning and I definitely won’t be the last. Here I am, in my 50’s, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

I tried to explain this to someone last night. Although I’m usually fairly articulate, all I could do was wave my hands around in frustration as I searched for the right words that would explain my dilemma. We talked of how in the past people would go off and live in the wilderness to get closer to God. Perhaps they were running away from their lives and the spiritual aspect gave them an excuse to bolt. I don’t know. But I do know that I don’t want to die with the regret that I never took the hard road.

My life has been pretty cushy. Yes, there have been some difficulties and lately quite a few physical unpleasantness have arose. Still, I have always had food and shelter. I’m by no means suggesting that I want to be homeless and starving. Is it possible that I will never reach my truth if I don’t sacrifice something? I was asked if I would be willing to give up everything if it meant a closer relationship with God. Tough question. I don’t know what I’m capable of because I’ve never really tried.

After much discussion, all I could finally say is that it feels like time to go to my personal wilderness. I wish to hell I knew what that means. It’s kind of like when you catch sight of something just outside your peripheral vision. You know it’s there but your brain can’t process the information. I’m desperate to know what the image is but can’t figure out how to get how to get it into focus.

Until I do, I’ll go about my daily life. But if you’re talking to me one day and I suddenly get a far way look in my eyes, I’m not ignoring you. It’s just that I’m listening for the call that will bring me fully to myself.

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It’s happening more and more lately. I get an idea for a post or a poem. I plan to write it down but get distracted as I wash my coffee cup or pick up the socks I left on the floor last night. As hard as I try, the idea remains elusive. The frustration is, well, frustrating. As hard as I try, I’m unable to get the thought back.

I wonder how many great ideas I’ve forgotten in a moment’s time. Think of all the life changing ideas that are floating around unexpressed.  There must be billions of them. Often someone will say when they hear of a new invention, “Oh, I thought of that years ago.” Is it possible that barely formed thoughts are up for grabs? What if when the originator of the thought can’t retain it, the universe holds on to it until someone who won’t forget comes along?

Somehow that makes me feel better. Now I won’t drive myself crazy trying to remember the fabulous idea I had while pumping gas. I’ll just sit back and wait for the universe to distribute it to someone who won’t forget it. Hell, it might even come home to roost. What a great idea.

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Bride of Frankenstein

I recently had to get something ugly removed from my face. No, not the surly expression I occasionally get when I have to stay late at work. It was just one of those souvenirs from my youth when I slathered myself with baby oil and baked in the sun. I seem to be prone to them and I usually take it in stride.

But this time is different. I have stitches running down from my nose to my upper lip and then across my lip into my mouth. All I can say it ouch! For the first two days I had to drink from a bendy straw and cut my food into teeny tiny bites just so I could eat. The swelling goes down every day and today I was able to give someone I like a lot a quick kiss. I can almost smile. Laughing is pretty much impossible.

In order to make this more bearable, I’ve told different stories when asked what the hell had happened to my face. I told some people that I’d been in a bar fight but they didn’t look convinced. I’ve told others that tenors are mean and to be avoided at all costs. My dermatologist is a tenor in my choir. He thought it was pretty funny. Today at work I blamed it on my assistant manager.  At least she has a good sense of humor. Mostly I told the truth without getting into details.

At this point, I’m bored with the whole thing. The fun is gone and I’m sick of explaining why I look like a mad scientist’s experiment gone wrong.  The stitches come out on Thursday and I will be mightily relieved.   Maybe the next time (I’m sure there will be one) I’ll get an eye patch and pretend I’m a pirate. Yo ho ho and all that.

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Lost and Sometimes Found

I’ve been losing things lately. Today I spent a good amount of time looking for poems I had written in the 90’s. They’re in a red folder and, for the life of me, I can’t put my hands on them. I decided to give up for the time being. Usually once I stop searching, the missing thing shows up. After digging through two drawers, a box in the bedroom closet and a bookcase, I stopped. So I sat back on my heels and announced that I wasn’t going to look anymore. I figure the poems are just playing hide and seek with me. They’ll turn up when I’ve forgotten all about wanting them.

This got me to thinking about how many other items disappear. I won’t use the term “gone missing”. It just bothers me somehow, especially when used to describe people. It implies that these missing people always had a choice in the matter. We know that this just isn’t true. Anyway, I digress. I’m not talking about socks either. Plenty has been written about those. I mean bigger stuff, expensive things. I lost my digital camera once for two months. I searched high and low only to find it on top of a bookcase with the binoculars. What was it doing there? It usually lives in a drawer in the living room. Was it lonely? I was sure I had been robbed.

No one will buy me earrings anymore. I inevitably lose one after only wearing a new pair once. I’ve thought about wearing different ones at the same time but I’m not sure what kind of fashion statement that would make. Perhaps it would scream, “This woman puts on her jewelry in the dark.” I keep the lone earring, always hopeful that the other will show up. I tend to lose more during winter because I catch them in my scarf. My supply of earrings is dwindling.

Shortly after buying a new car two summers ago, my ex-husband lost my spare key. He blamed me but I didn’t follow the logic. It was in his wallet, not mine. Anyway, getting a new key isn’t as easy as it used to be. No more running down to the hardware store and having a copy made for two or three bucks. Nope. Now you have to go to the car dealer and plunk down $150. For a lousy key! Someone explained to me that it was because of the computer chip. I still think it’s a racket. So now I’m always making sure I have my keys. I really should get an extra one but I always decide to buy groceries instead.

I know someone who misplaced his car for an entire week once. He thought it had been stolen. Turns out he and his family had just moved to a new house. One night he had indulged a little bit more than was good for him, drove to the old house, parked the car and left it there. His wife found it when she went to check the mail. The local police were not amused. Neither was his wife, to tell the truth. He never did it again.

One of the nice aspects of lost things is finding them. It’s great to put my hand in my coat pocket and find a ten dollar bill. I also like it when someone else finds my missing stuff. I live in a large condominium building and my neighbors will put found items on a table by the mailbox. You know the kind of things. Glove and scarves in the winter. Children’s shoes and toys in the spring and summer.

What’s my tally for this winter? I’ve lost one black glove, four earrings and some great ear warmers. I was hoping someone would turn those in but no such luck. The camera turned up. I still don’t know where the poems are but I believe that I’ll find them eventually. I put a prayer out to the gods of lost belongings. “Oh great and powerful gods (you have to flatter them) I search in vain for a red folder containing old poems. Any help would be appreciated. Oh and while we’re on the subject, have you seen my silver earring?”


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Closing In

In exactly 9 weeks and 5 days, I will celebrate my bat mitzah.  Granted, it’s 39 years and 5 months late. But the fact that it’s still happening at all is a testament to hard work and determination. Many of my friends hit this milestone at the age of 13. Alas, my parents didn’t seem to think it was important. I’ve always felt as though I missed out on something important. When the opportunity arrived, I jumped at the chance.

First, I took adult Hebrew classes. I still remember the first class. Our teacher, Sarese, wrote a squiggly symbol on the board and declared it was the letter bet.  I remember thinking that this was going to be harder than I thought. Somehow over time, it became easier and after two years, I was ready to begin my formal study with my cantor. Thank God for her patience. That time is almost at an end. I have crammed my poor old brain with so many different prayers and tunes that I worry that when the time comes to recite them I will open my mouth and nothing will come out.

In addition to the liturgy, I also have to plan the small gathering taking place afterward. I’m so grateful for all my friends that have offered to help me with the preparations. Having never done anything like this before, I’m truly shooting in the dark.  I still have several prayers to learn. I don’t know how much more I can retain.  All I know is that on May 14, 2011 I will accomplish what I have desired for almost 40 years. How many people can say that? Wish me luck.



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